Being a rookie can be a tough thing. If you produce as a rookie, expectations are even greater in the second season. And if you struggle as a rookie, there's even more pressure to begin producing in Year 2. It's a microscope Jack Eichel, Connor McDavid and this season's other top rookies will experience a season from now. Here are five players who are flying high in their second season and five that are experiencing the sophomore slump. Where do you think Eichel and McDavid will be next season?
There's no higher bar for a second-year player than winning the Calder Trophy the season before. Ekblad earned that recognition last season, and a season later he continues to garner leaguewide respect as a 19-year-old defenseman. He has nine goals and 10 assists and has averaged 20:47 of ice time in 42 games. He is second the Panthers with a 51.7 Corsi percentage, and is second on the team with a plus-13 goal differential in 5-on-5 play. He was selected to the All-Star Game, and is helping lead a team pointed toward its first playoff appearance since 2012.
Gaudreau got off to a strong start in his second season before taking it to another level last month. After scoring 12 goals, producing 18 points in 13 games, and nabbing two hat tricks in December, he was named the league's No. 1 star of the month. He has 18 goals and 24 assists on the season, and is sixth in the league with 42 points. He's also tied for fourth with five winning goals. He was also named an All-Star, and is on pace to eclipse his rookie offensive numbers of 24 goals and 40 assists.
Kuznetsov is having a breakout sophomore season after not receiving a single Calder vote last year. He has already matched his 80-game rookie point total (11-26-37) from last season, with 13 goals and 25 assists in 42 games. His 14.0 shooting percentage is nearly six points higher than last season, and he's also averaging 17:42 of ice time, which is more than four minutes higher than last season.
The hype for Klingberg's second season began during the offseason, when superstar teammate Tyler Seguin said in September that he thought Klingberg could be the team's best player. Klingberg hasn't disappointed and has been a major reason for the Stars' success. He has six goals and 32 assists, and is averaging 23:24 of ice time in 44 games this season. He also has a 54.6 Corsi percentage and a plus-7 goal differential.
Allen is currently week-to-week with a lower-boldy injury, but he has proven himself worthy of being the Blues' No. 1 goalie. He was solid with a 22-7-4 record, 2.28 goals-against average and .913 save percentage last season, but he's been more consistent this season. He is 18-10-3 with a 2.17 goals-against average. He has a .924 save percentage in 33 games and is second in the league with five shutouts.
Hayes might have set unrealistic expectations for himself after scoring 17 goals with a 15.3 shooting percentage and 45 points as a rookie. He hasn't matched that production this season. He has scored seven goals with a 9.7 shooting percentage, and has just 19 points through 40 games. His Corsi percentage is also down to 48.2 this season after coming in at 51.0 last season.
Hutchinson has been given the opportunity to earn the Jets' No. 1 job this season, but he hasn't been able to seize it. Last season, he was 21-10-5 with a 2.38 goals-against average and .914 save percentage. But this season he's 5-9-1 with a 2.97 goals-against average and .904 save percentage. He'll have to improve on those numbers if he's going to beat out rookie Connor Hellebuyck for the job in the future.
Lee opened a lot of eyes last season by scoring 25 goals, which was second-best on the Islanders to captain John Tavares' 38. Lee was able to put up such production because he shot 12.7 percent. His shooting percentage has fallen to 5.9 this season, and his production has followed. He has six goals in 42 games, though he ranks second on the Islanders with a 53.4 Corsi percentage.
Drouin's career hasn't been long, but it has certainly been interesting. Drafted third overall in 2013, last season as a rookie he had four goals and 28 assists in 70 games. Expectations were higher for this season, but it's been a bumpy one. He's been hampered by injuries and has two goals and six assists in 19 games. Drouin was sent to the minors recently, after which his agent let it be known that Drouin had asked Tampa for a trade back in November.
Forsberg was slow out of the gates in his second season. After scoring 26 goals last season, he scored just two goals in October and one in November this season. He has since picked up his production, scoring seven goals with a 13.7 shooting percentage in December. He has 11 goals and 16 assists in 42 games, but his 5-on-5 goal differential has fallen from plus-25 last season to just plus-3 this season.